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Boris wants to punish Putin by going for Russia's gold as 'he already crossed red lines'

24 March 2022, 07:08 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 08:29

Boris Johnson says Putin has already crossed red lines in attacking civilians
Boris Johnson says Putin has already crossed red lines in attacking civilians. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson now wants to go for Russia's gold reserves in his bid to tighten the screws on Moscow, saying Putin has already crossed a red line by bombing civilians.

The Prime Minister told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that while the West has spoken about Putin going too far if he uses chemical weapons, he has already "crossed a threshold of barbarism" in attacking innocent people in Ukraine.

He insisted "we need to do more" and was looking at options to crank up the heat on the Kremlin ahead of a meeting with Nato leaders on Thursday.

"We all want to see some solution in Ukraine, everyone is hoping that Putin will pull back and stop this incredible, barbaric slaughter that he's engaged on," Mr Johnson said.

"But the only way to do that, we think, and there's a huge amount of unity, is to keep going with the pressure that we’ve applied and to increase it.

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Read more: Boris wants to punish Putin by going for Russia's gold as 'he already crossed red lines'

"And the point I'm going to make today is look, he's already crossed a threshold of barbarism in the way he's behaving.

"People talk about new red lines for chemical, biological, tactical nuclear weapons or whatever.

"For me, the red line already has been crossed. He's bombing, indiscriminately, civilian centres.

"He's causing huge numbers of casualties in wholly innocent populations.

"We need to do more. And so we need to do more economically, can we do more to stop him using his gold reserves for instance, in addition to his cash reserves?

"What can we do more to sanction SWIFT? And then we need to do more to give the Ukrainians military support."

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And Mr Johnson insisted he believes it is clear Russian invaders in this "brutal, barbaric... war in Ukraine" have committed illegal atrocities and wants to see Putin hauled in front of international judges.

"I think it is certainly true as Joe Biden has said that the Russian war machine is already guilty of war crimes and it is right that Russia should now be called before the International Court of Justice and right that President Putin should appear before the International Criminal Court.

There is no question that what they are doing is are war crimes and we must make sure that we steadily collate all the evidence, all the evidence about the use of thermobaric weapons, the deliberate targeting of civilians, everything that we need to eventually bring prosecutions."

Asked by Nick if the UK had been too slow to start rolling out sanctions on Russian oligarchs, some of whom appear to have had their finances deeply entrenched in London, Mr Johnson admitted it had taken "a while" to sanction them.

He said that was down to tough property laws, but now oligarchs associated with Putin were being subjected to "huge economic punishment".

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He will call for more measures against Russia as he meets Nato leaders in Brussels later.

"My message today in Nato will be the ways in which the world can continue to intensify the pressure on Putin.

"And the more we do that now, the more pressure we apply now, particularly on things like gold, I believe the more we can shorten the war, shorten the slaughter in Ukraine."

The Prime Minister is to send another 6,000 missiles to the country, which has enjoyed success against Russian armour by using NLAW launchers sent by the UK.

Nato is set to confirm four new battlegroups will be set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, numbering about 1,000 to 1,500 troops each.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also set to address Nato, as he calls for global demonstrations to mark a month since Russia invaded.

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